Q&A: Guilherme Marcondes

Famed for his work for clients such as MTV, Microsoft and Nickelodeon, as well as his experimental shorts, Guilherme Marcondes is on a roll.

Computer Arts: You made the move from being primarily an architectural illustrator to an animator fairly early in your career. What prompted that?

Guilherme Marcondes: I actually never worked in architecture, but I used to do cartoons for magazines and such while in architecture school. Actually the sideways move was going to architecture school in the first place, since I never wanted to be an architect. I just liked the visual arts, but didn't know what to pursue professionally. There's not many good visual arts schools in Brazil and the architecture school I went to was known for gathering the 'artsy misfits' who were trying to find their way.

CA: How much does your Brazilian heritage influence your work?

GM: I used to think that it didn't, but now that I'm not living in Brazil some influences are becoming more clear [he recently moved to the US]. Anyway, these influences are things I naturally absorbed from the environment over time - I never wanted to make 'Brazilian' work, like some people do.

CA: Your award-winning short Tyger, based on the poem by William Blake, is a remarkable mix of media and techniques. Can you tell us about it?

GM: Partly the concept influenced the choice of techniques, partly it was the opposite. I wanted to do a mixed-technique film because it seemed fun and I would be expanding my technical experience as a director. The tiger is a puppet to express the materiality of the description in the poem, for instance. On the other hand, the backgrounds are night photographs I took around S£o Paulo, and they inspired the film as much as they served as the actual footage for it.

CA: The puppeteers are dressed in black but are still obviously visible. Was that deliberate, when you could have removed them digitally?

GM: It was. I had two motivations. One was interpreting a line in the poem that questions who created the tiger. It's a shock at that point of the poem, when you are hypnotised by the beast's description, to discover it's not the ultimate power - it's someone's creation. I thought it would be perfect, since I decided to have a puppet, to do it by direct manipulation to illustrate the idea that even though it's so powerful-looking, the tiger was still manipulated by someone. The second thing was simply teasing people by having an old-school hands-on technique at the centre of a CG film, as an inversion.

CA: Is there a specific message behind Tyger, or do you prefer people to have their own interpretation?

GM: I prefer to leave it to people.

CA: Are you happiest working on personal pieces, commissioned projects or a bit of both?

GM: I never went to animation or film school, so all I learned about film was from doing it professionally. I was lucky enough to always work in creative studios that allowed me to have some freedom besides the intense technical challenge that working in commercials generally presents. I'm happy with everything I learn when doing advertising and I can have a great time doing it. With Tyger what happened was that my experimental project brought me more commercial attention than my previous commercial work. That's great.

CA: What are your plans for 2008?

GM: I'm very excited because 2008 is going to be the start of my proper career as an independent director. So far I've been on staff in animation studios and working on my short films in parallel. Now I'm represented as a director by Hornet Inc. I'm also starting to put a project together for my next short film.

INFO To find out more see http://guilherme.tv, www.passion-pictures.com (UK representation) and www.hornetinc.com (US representation).